[plt-scheme] Guzdial: "I heart HtDP"

From: Parnell Springmeyer (ixmatus at gmail.com)
Date: Wed Mar 10 19:48:35 EST 2010

"Todd O'Bryan" <toddobryan at gmail.com> writes:

> We need both/and. Students have to understand what they're doing, but
> they also have to have fluency at just doing it. Most 14-year-olds
> understand *how* to drive a car, but we don't let them drive cars
> because they haven't had enough practice to be good at it. Knowing how
> to solve a quadratic is a lovely thing, but it's useless if you can't
> actually do it.

This is a classic dichotomy between *a posteriori* knowledge and
*a priori* knowledge. I agree, generally, that a proper mixture of both
is a necessity in education; but, that view of education is too flat -
it doesn't take into consideration the individual's personal
volition. It is assigning too much of the responsibility [to discern
when/where/what these two learning paths need to be experienced] to the
educator - because learners enter into learning environments
implicitly agreeing to the precept that the educators are superior, (in
knowledge) it is falsely expected of the educators that they provide
said discernment.

It's a self-reinforcing loop too, once the expectation is set in, then
students rarely take it upon themselves to expect of themselves this
direction and discernment (usually coming from their upbringing in which
most parents tell them what and what not to do, rather than allowing the
child to learn that for themselves) which feeds the expectation by
making educators think they need to provide it, &c...

The compound motion of theoretic learning, praxis learning, and the
personal will power to decide when/where/how to link the two is what
creates "brilliance". Otherwise you're just a pedagogic know it all or a
cog in the wheel at a corporation gluing API's together.

Educators that use their own personal path to knowledge as an example
that students can use to model their own choices, are the best - they
aren't telling them how to do it - instead they're providing a map saying
"This is how I did it and I hope it helps."

> I think both Shriram and Kathi, the two people who initiated me into
> the HtDP cult, are masters of this technique. When they teach, it
> feels like all the ideas are coming from the students and the class is
> creating its own little view of the world. It feels like "discovery"
> and "inquiry," but don't be fooled--they know exactly where they're
> going and their questions and examples are designed to get from point
> A to point B. If you come up with an idea that would take the class on
> a detour to point C, they'll come up with an example that will make
> you think point C is probably not a good place to visit.

You're describing a learning environment I wish I'd had
access to :) I've only been able to manage my education by using books
and a mentor as my sole "teachers" and learning to leverage my personal
volition to make that "compound motion" happen.

Parnell "Ixmatus" Springmeyer (http://ixmat.us)

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